Beth Macy Tells Of Two Brothers, A Kidnapping, And A Mother's Quest In "Truevine"

Aug 18, 2017

At the turn of the 20th century, the most popular entertainment acts in the country were found under the Big Top. The circus offered daring acts of bravery, wild animals, comic antics and the collection of human oddities known as the Freak Show.

Two of the most popular sideshow attractions were young George and Willie Muse, African American albino brothers taken from their family and displayed through a number of circus companies. Their exotic white skin and wild dreadlocks made them a popular act. They were given new names, Eko and Iko [pronounced ee-koh and eye-koh], and billed as everything from Ecuadorian cannibals to ambassadors from Mars. But despite their growing fame, they were virtual slaves to their “agent” Candy Shelton, who pocketed all their earnings and told them their mama was dead.

Today’s guest, Beth Macy, took 25 years to get to the heart of this story, which she recounts in her bestseller, Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South. Truevine was short-listed for the Kirkus Prize and was named one of 2016’s top books by the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and a number of other media outlets.

Ms. Macy is a prize-winning journalist and the author of an earlier book, Factory Man, which we featured in 2015 on this program.